Holiness to the Lord - The House of the Lord

Elder George I. Cannon


Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional

June 17, 2003



I am very happy to be here with my wife, Isabel Hales Cannon.  I hope many of you will have the opportunity of meeting her after the devotional.  She has a special spot in her heart for this university.  In 1916 her father and mother, Wayne and Belle Hales, started their married life in Rexburg.  Wayne B. Hales had been hired as a member of the faculty.  They lived here for 5 years.  His first assignment was to teach physics, algebra, trigonometry and the New Testament.  They always talked with great fondness of those first five years of their married life.  In Brother Hales biography, Amy life story@ he summarizes those five years with five short paragraphs.  I want to share one of them with you.  AWe are exposed to a type of religious faith and moral living which was quite unique in the Church.  It was all on such a high plane of living that it became our ideal of performance in years to come.@  This great spirit to which Brother Hales referred has continued to be a part of this splendid university.  I am grateful for what each one of you are contributing to that spirit.


What joy it is to be with President and Sister Bednar.  We first met this remarkable couple when President Bednar was serving as the president of the Arkansas stake.  After spending a few days with them both Isabel and I remarked this couple has a great contribution to make.  We have watched with interest and delight in the many contributions they have made and continue to make as remarkable citizens in the kingdom of God.  Thank you President and Sister Bednar for giving us the privilege of being here and rubbing shoulders with you and this outstanding faculty and student body.


March 12, 1995 Gordon B. Hinckley was ordained the prophet and set apart as the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Salt Lake temple.  The following day he held a press conference in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. At that conference he made this most significant statement about you.  Here is what he said---@we are particularly proud of our youth.  I think we have never had a stronger generation of young men and women than we have today.  For the most part they are true to the faith of their forebears.  Surrounded by forces that would pull them down and tremendous pressures to pull them away from time-tested virtues, they are going forward with constructive lives, nurturing themselves both intellectually and spiritually.  We have no fears or doubts concerning the future of this work.@


What confidence President Hinckley has in each one of you!


In 1968 Sister Cannon and I were presiding over a mission in Great Britain.  We had as our supervising general authority Spencer W. Kimball.  At that time he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  On one occasion he came to visit us and I asked if he would be willing to speak at a fireside composed of recent converts to the church.  He graciously accepted and we had an inspiring evening with him.  The mission home was filled with many converts most of them having been in the church for six months or less.  He said to them, AI want to share two thoughts with you.  The first thing I want you to know is that membership in the church is a call to leadership.  (He went on to tell them that they needed to serve in the church and as they did their testimonies would grow stronger and they would be faithful in the church  (I am sure this came as a surprise to many of them because they had already done many things to prepare for their baptism. -- they had given up their cup of tea, going to the pub on Saturday night, coming to church on Sunday morning.  Commence paying their tithing and so forth.  I believe that if President Kimball were here today he might be telling each one of you that Amembership in the church is a call to leadership.@  It is so important that we lose ourselves in serving our Savior and our fellowmen.


He commended them for being baptized and confirmed member of the church and receiving the holy ghost.  He said you have now entered into the kingdom of god, but what you have done is only the beginning  now  you must prepare yourself to go to the House of the Lord, the temple, when the time is right for you where you can receive the ordinances of the temple and make sacred covenants with the Lord that you might prepare yourself and your families to be exalted in the celestial kingdom.


My message to you today is related to what appears on the front of the one hundred and fifteen temples which are found throughout the world.


AHoliness to the Lord.  The House of the Lord.@  I hope the next time you enter the temple you would look at those words and contemplate what they represent.


I was pleased when I learned that you bring your own scriptures to the devotional  (Please hold them up so I can see them.).  Will you  turn to the Doctrine and Covenants, section 36 and we will read together the final verse. (Read verse 8).   Here  the savior is speaking to the Prophet Joseph Smith only 9 months after the church was restored.  Now turn to section 97.  A revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith a little over three years after the restoration of the gospel.  (Read verses 10, and then 11.and 12.)    Here the Savior is emphasizing the importance of tithing. I hope every time you pay your tithing you know you are contributing to building temples throughout the world.


Then we have those wonderful promises in verses 15 and 16. 


On March 27, 1846, the Kirtland temple was dedicated.  It is significant  to note that the first building erected after the restoration of the gospel was a temple.


Elder John A. Widtsoe, a convert to the church from Norway and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, has been quoted as saying, AI don=t believe there has ever been a building erected in the history of the world that has required more sacrifice than that of those early Saints.@


Turn to section 109.  It is the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland temple..  You will note at the beginning is stated, AThis prayer was given to him (the Prophet Joseph Smith) by revelation.


I am going to give you an assignment.  I hope each one of you will take the time within the next week to read aloud to yourself this dedicatory  prayer.  It is one of the most inspiring scriptures we have.


On the Sabbath day, April 3, 1836.  The fullness of the gospel was ushered in.  Turn to section 110.  Here is recorded the Savior visiting the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  Listen to the Savior=s words, Afor behold I have accepted this house, and my name shall be here; and I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house@. (Verse 7)  continuing on let us read verse 9  AYea the hearts of thousands and tens of thousands shall greatly rejoice in


Consequence of the blessings which shall be poured out, and the endowment with which my servants have been endowed in this house.=


After the Savior=s visit there appeared three heavenly messengersBMoses commiting the keys of the gathering of Israel -- Elias committing the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham and then finally Elijah that great old testament prophet who was caught up in heaven.  He bestowed upon the Prophet Joseph Smith the keys of the sealing power.


What a great endowment of power was bestowed upon the church in the Kirtland temple.


How thrilled and grateful we are for the restoration of the second temple--the Nauvoo temple.  It was in Nauvoo that the fullness of the temple ordinances were revealed for the living.


Also were revealed the sacred ordinances of baptism and confirmation for the dead.  These sacred ordinances helped prepare the saints for the trek to the rocky mountains where temples could be erected as prophesied in Isaiah.


Four days after Brigham Young arrived in the Salt Lake valley in 1847  he walked to a spot between two creeks put down his cane and said, >here we shall build a temple to our God.=


During the church=s April, 1853, general conference, President Young recalled this experience;

AI scarcely say much about revelations, or visions, but suffice it to say, five years ago last July I was here and saw in the spirit , the temple not ten feet from where we have laid the chief corner stone.  I have not inquired what kind of a temple we should build.  Why?  Because it was represented before me.  I have never looked upon that ground, but the vision of it was there.  I see it as plainly as if it was in reality before me.  Wait until it is done.  I will say, however, that it will have six towers.@  (Sermons of Brigham Young, delivered in the old Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah 6 April 1853 JD l:ll)

The apostle who drove in the stake where Brigham Young put down his cane was Wilford Woodruff.  On April 6, 1893 Wilford Woodruff, who was president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the Salt  Lake temple.  For President Woodruff, this occasion was the fulfillment of a dream he had several years earlier.  He confided in his journal Anearly fifty years ago while in the city of Boston I had a vision of going with the saints to the rocky mountains building a temple and dedicated it.  Two nights in succession before John Taylor=s death (1887) President Brigham Young (who had died ten years earlier) gave me the keys of the temple and told me to go and dedicate it, which I did.@  (Wilford Woodruff Journals 1833-1908 6 April 1893 LDS Church Archives.)


My dear friends what a heritage we have.  What a blessing for us to be living in the dispensation of the fullness of times when temples are beginning to dot the world and you and I can be anxiously engaged in moving this sacred work forward.


Now I want to say a few words to each one of you who is gathered here.


The temples are here to bless you and to help you become saviors on Mt. Zion.  First I speak to you who have been to the temple and received your blessings of the ordinances of the temple.  You have received the great blessing of the initiatory ordinances and participated in the sacred covenants and promises of the endowment.  I have always appreciated President David O. Mckay=s description of the endowment when he said, > to me it is a step by step ascent into the divine presence.=


For you that have received these blessings, it is now your privilege and responsibility to go back to the temple often and do this sacred work for those beyond the veil.  Turn to your Doctrine and Covenants section 138 and you will get a feeling of those who are on the other side anxiously waiting for us to do the work for them in the holy temple..  (read verses 12 and 14)


I would like to share with you an experience of Elder Enzio Busche. Elder Busche is a convert to the church from  Germany.  He served as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy and was called to be the first president of the Frankfurt, Germany temple.  He related this experience at a luncheon held in the tabernacle between the sessions of a regional meeting held in January, 1994.


Elder Busche would observe that when the French speaking group came to the temple, there was an elderly brother who was the first to enter the temple and the last one to leave.  Elder Busche was very much aware of this brother because of his devotion but because Elder Busche did not speak French, he wasn=t able to communicate with him. Often the brother would come to him and shake his hand and say, AMerci Presidente, merci Presidente.@


One day Elder Busche was able, through an interpreter, to learn about him and his conversion to the church.  For many years this brother served as a clerk in a large cathedral in Belgium.  One of his duties was to show visitors about the cathedral.  He earned a meager income in this job.  Many of the people he took around the cathedral were tourists from England and America.  One day he read in the newspaper where he could attend some English classes for free. (You and I know who were teaching these classes.) he decided to attend those classes and as a consequence in three months he was a member of the Church and no longer an employee at the cathedral.


One year after his baptism he received his temple recommend and went to the temple in Bern, Switzerland.  As he participated in those sacred ordinances in the temple he was permitted to see many of his ancestors who were on the other side of the veil and who indicated to him that they had been waiting for him to join the church and come to the temple so that he could perform their sacred ordinances for them.  This was why he needed to take every opportunity he could to be in the House of the Lord as often as he could to do this sacred work.


His comment to Elder Busche was; Afor many, many years I spent my life in a house surrounded by death  (Cathedrals are burial grounds for the church hierarchy) --now I go into the house of the lord and I am surrounded by life.@


To you that have been sealed in the holy temple there is no greater blessing that can be bestowed upon a husband and wife upon this earth.   You have been sealed for time and all eternity.  You have been sealed to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection together.  All of the blessings promised to the posterity of Abraham and Jacob can be yours if you are true and faithful to each other and those sacred covenants which you have made. Some of the time when you return to the temple participate in those sacred sealings for those beyond the grave.  You can also participate in sealings of families. What a joy you can feel as families are united for eternity. 


One day there was a five year old boy who had been sealed to his parents.  As the sister ordinance worker walked with him back to the youth center she asked him how everything went.  His response was AI don=t exactly understand what the man said but I do know that we have been glued together.@  How true that is.


Now to those of you who have not yet been to the temple to receive your temple ordinances,. you can be in the temple regularly performing that sacred work of baptisms and confirmations for those on the other side of the veil.


When I was in the temple presidency I would often go to the baptistry early in the morning and observe the wonderful young people doing baptisms and confirmations I loved to hear the swishing of the water.  One morning at 6 a.m. I witnessed a father baptizing his daughter.  When I visited with them I found out that it was the daughter=s 12th birthday.  The father said she wanted to be in the temple on her 12th birthday.  What a joy it was to see that father, the daughter and the mother all together in the holy temple.


I would remind all of you that when you enter the temple you are entering the university of God. Here you will learn and feel eternal truths that will sustain you through the many challenges this life brings to all of us.  Here you can receive personal inspiration and revelation concerning your life and that of your loved ones.  The veil is very thin in the temple.  It is important to remember that the teacher in the temple is the Holy Ghost.


During part of the period when we presided over the Salt Lake temple, President Howard W. Hunter served as the President of the Church.  He served for only nine months, but from the day he became the prophet until he passed away he taught us about the temple.  We witnessed many people coming to the temple with their families to receive the blessings as they listened to and followed the prophet. Here are some of the great truths he taught us.


AI invite the members of the church to establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership. It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the church to be temple worthy.  I would hope that every adult member would be worthy of--and carry-a current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it.  Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people.  Let us hasten to the temple as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow.  Let us go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship.  ...the temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace.  It is the House of the Lord.  It is holy unto the Lord.  It should be holy unto us.@

President Hunter=s final words to the church appeared in the February 1995 Ensign.  He passed away March 3rd, 1995.  I would like to quote a few sentences from that article  AAll of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple.  This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial: we cannot return to God=s presence without them.@  I would like to repeat the last two sentences  -- Athis is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial we cannot return to god=s presence without them.@


Now we are led and guided by a living prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley.  He has dedicated temples all over the world.  The next one will be in Brisbane, Australia.  What a great example he is to all of us of one  who magnifies the Aspirit of Elijah.@  Listen to these inspiring words:--

AWe shall continue the great work that goes on in our temples, an unmatched work of love reaching out even to those who have gone beyond the veil of death.  Can there be a greater labor of love than this?  It comes more nearly of partaking of the spirit of the lord himself, who gave his life as a vicarious sacrifice for all of us, than any other work of which I know.  It is done in the name of him whose salvation is universal.@  (Ensign Nov. 1982)


AEvery temple that we build becomes a memorial to the truth that we believe in the immortality of the human soul.  Everything that occurs in these temples is concerned with the eternities... the temple becomes the great bridge from this life to the next and finds expression in the most unselfish kind of service of which I am aware.@  (Sudbury, Ontario Members Meeting Aug 5, 1998)


AWe have not received the fullness of the gospel until we have received all the ordinances of the gospel in the temple.  We come unto Christ through the ordinances of the temple. (Temple Meeting Feb. 4, 1998)

As I come to the conclusion of this talk  I would remind all of us that in the temple we are taught how we can become like our Father in Heaven and our elder brother, Jesus Christ.  Everything that takes place in the temple is to prepare us to return and be with them and with our loved ones.


The Savior bestows great blessings upon us in the temple.  There is no blessing he will not give to us if we are true and faithful and keep the covenants which we make with him in his house.  It is important to remember that we are making our covenants with him.


It is our responsibility to remember these covenants and to live them.  Every covenant we make will bless us and our posterity.


It is in the temple we are taught the celestial law.  It is in the world and in our homes we are given the opportunity of living it.  Temple ordinances do not save us by themselves.  They teach us how to live so that we can be saved.  Elder Neal Maxwell in addressing a seminar of newly called temple presidents said. AIt is not important to go through the temple, what is important is to have the temple go through us.


Elder J. Ballard Washburn, who served in the Quorum of the Seventy, has said he believes there are two subjects which the Savior will inquire about when we report to him.  A1. Have you received the ordinances and kept the covenants of the holy temple?  And 2. Give me a report on your family.@


Elder Boyd K. Packer has taught us much about the temple.  He has written-- Ait is in the temple we become a covenant people. .our labors in the temple provide us a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people.  If we will accept the revelation concerning temple ordinances, and if we will enter into our covenants without reservation, the Lord will protect us.  We will receive inspiration sufficient for the challenges of life.@


May 4, 1844 fifty three days before the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith said, Awe need the temple more than anything else.@  Journal History of the Church 4/4/84


I would share my witness with you that the temple is >The House of the Lord.=  That it is a place of Aholiness@.  It is where we can go to receive inspiration and guidance .  It is where we can feel the presence of the savior and find joy in being engaged in his work.


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